Penguins Report: Game Day vs. Dallas
Friday, 11.11.2011 / 9:00 AM ET / Penguins Report
By Sam Kasan
- Kennedy Out; Tangradi in: Fleury starts (11:27 AM).
- Steve Mears brings it in the Game Day Report (4:30 PM).
- Pens lines (10:34 AM).
- Pens recalled Tangradi (10:15 AM).
- The Big Guy 66 signing autographs for vets (11:00 AM).
- Scouting the Stars (9:15 AM).
- Coach Bylsma on Dallas, Tangradi & more (12:03 PM).
- Tangradi & Niskanen spit knowledge (12:22 PM).
- Dupuis mic’d up for practice (10:00 AM).
- Pens Vault: Kasper – not the ghost (9:45 AM).
- Pens pics (11:15 AM).
- Stars pics (12:34 PM).
- “Your place is still at the heart of my everything…” (9:00 AM).
And here is a look at part of how the Pens are celebrating Veterans Day to honor the troops. Michelle Crechiolo has more.
Since you've all been patiently awaiting your Steve Mears fix for the day, here he is with today's Verizon Game Day Report.
The stars allign (left); Look a shooting star...make a wish (right)
Orien's Belt (left); The Goose is loose (right)
Sounds heard around the room...
On if he knows how long he’ll be here:
No, I’m just taking things day-by-day. I’m just happy to be apart of things and in the lineup. I haven’t been told anything; I’m just trying to take things day-to-day.
On his performance in Wilkes-Barre:
I’m playing a lot more relaxed and really playing a power game. I really talked all along about trying to be a power forward, but I think now extra effort to fight for pucks, I think I really rounded it out. Things have started out great in Wilkes-Barre and I’m just going to continue that confidence into tonight.
On his comfort level:
Yeah, I don’t think that I need to do anything different. I’m here for a reason. I just need to play my game and not worry about anything else, not be too nervous and worry about doing more than I am capable of and just playing my game.
On the Dallas forwards:
They have guys that everybody knows about. Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow are very good players for them. They’re offensively gifted and they’re leaders. I think especially over here in the East some guys fly under the radar, Jamie Benn in particular and Loui Eriksson. They’re some top end players and they are putting up a lot of points for them right now and playing really well.
On what the key to shutting them down is:
Like any good players, I think you try to be hard on them and when you get those opportunities take control of the puck. Offensive players like that, turnovers give them time and space like that to make a play and you’re out of position then.
On if he knows if their system has changed dramatically:
From what I have heard, yeah, it’s a big change over there. The way they are on the bench, the way they play in practice and their attitude around the rink. It’s been a dramatic change with the coaching change and the results of how they’ve been playing. It’s been a good one for that group and they are responding really well.
On how he feels about playing against them:
It’s a new experience for me. I’ve never played against a former NHL team. I have lots of good friends over there, lots of old friends, I’m excited to play against them and play my best so we can beat them.
You'll have to try harder than that: Kaitlin Zurawsky
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma...
We’re playing a team we don’t see very much, but the team that is leading the league in points. They’ve been playing very well. Their forward lines of Ryder-Eriksson-Benn have been outstanding and deserving of the All-Star bids that they’ve gotten. Benn with his speed, shot and ability has been dominant. Their defense has been playing very well. Souray has come back and playing with a vengeance. You see how good his shot can be, but he’s also playing well defensively. Their goaltender (Lehtonen) has found his groove and playing very well. It’s a tough task tonight. The two top teams in each conference. I’m looking forward to that matchup.
On what system does Dallas run:
There are some characteristics in their team that are evident. Their rushes focus on a middle entry. With their speed it’s difficult to defend. They’ve had success off it through their lineup. You see all their lines scoring goals off their middle entry with the speed they have, backing teams off. Systematically in the defensive they’ve been very responsible. They protect the house, tough to penetrate, don’t give up a lot there. On the forecheck they usually have a third man and are really responsible in that regard. They’ve added to that pursuit of the puck work ethic that is noticeable every time you watch them play. They may be one of the best offensive teams in the offensive zone that we’ve played against. They attack the net. They hunt down pucks. Their D keeps pucks alive. They have an F3 presence that’s been dangerous for them. They’ve been playing very well systematically. The work ethic they bring to the game has been consistent.
On why Tangradi was chosen to recall:
It was quite a difficult choice. There are a handful of guys playing well down there. Eric’s game has really come on strong the last eight games or so with Wilkes-Barre. He’s playing strong down low. He’s protecting the puck. He’s been a physical presence. He’s really improved his puck management in the neutral zone. That’s something that he’s been inconsistent on in the past. We’re looking for him to continue that and be a force in the offensive zone, hold on to the puck, get to the net. He’ll get an opportunity tonight as net-front on the power play. Those are things that he’s been consistent at in the last eight games in Wilkes-Barre. He’s been doing pretty well. He’s part of their success there and tonight he’ll get an opportunity to do it for us.
On when a player plays against their former team:
It does make a difference. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s more of a distraction. It’s always a significant thing when a player is traded to look across and see the jersey they wore, were drafted in, grew up in, developed in and played for. Alex Goligoski is the same thing tonight. He was drafted by, developed and played for us. He had success here and now he’s playing for a different team. It’s unique. You look over see those jerseys on the guys. There’s an added incentive to the game. Hopefully, that’s motivation to come out on your game and play really well and not get distracted by things that are out of your control. It’s a special game for everybody included in that trade. I hope our guys come out ready to play the game like they have been. You look at Alex Goligoski and you know what he can do and what he can bring with his skating and shot. There are two sides to that trade with our guys here now and Alex over there.
Pens coach Bylsma said that Kennedy will not be playing tonight vs. Dallas. Eric Tangradi is in the lineup. Fleury will start between the pipes.
Friends. Laughter. Sharing it. Together. All of us. (left); The Big Dog is back! Tangradi is a one-man woof pack (right0
Man down!! Letang (left); Man down!! Staal (right); There is an epidemic inflicting the Pens right now. And it looks like we've got a bleeder.
Picard tries to play hockey with his stick behind him... Spoiler: He was very unsuccessful (left); Staal appears to be surrounded with no escape. However, plot twist. This is where the Pens find out about his black belt in Tang Soo Do (right)
Pens owner/legend/immortal Mario Lemieux was at the morning skate signing autographs for military vets. The Pens have an entire day of initiatives to honor the vets for Veterans Day, including attending the morning skate and meeting coaches/players.
Check back later in the day for stories, photos and video of the event.
Tyler Kennedy was ruled as a game-time decision by coach Bylsma yesterday. He and Crosby were the only forwards that didn't skate in line combos.
Pens lines at morning skate...
The 6 defensemen rotated.
Pens making their way onto the ice for their morning skate, including yesterday's recalled Eric Tangradi.
I know I posted this in yesterday's Pens Report, but it's so good that it's worth posting again. Here is Pascal Dupuis mic'd up at Thursday's practice.
Today is Friday, so that means it's time for the Pens Vault! This week is a classic featuring one of the greatest Pens of all time: Darius Kasparaitis.
The video is epic on many levels. First of all, "Kasper" is a legend in his own right. A human wrecking ball whose only purpose in a game was deliver crushing hits to opponents - most notably his signature hip check. (Truth-ish fact: the only time the puck ever contacted Kasper's stick was when he eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in a playoff Game 7 overtime. Look it up).
Second, the soundtrack is LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out." Only good things happen when this song is on.
Last, the clip from Rocky IV where the guy says of the Russian Ivan Drago "whatever he hits, he destroys." Forget Ronald Reagan, the reason the Soviet Union collapsed was because of the speech Rocky made after the match. "If I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change." Communism never stood a chance.
Why is Dallas playing such good ice hockey right now? Michelle Crechiolo has the answer with some investigative journalism.
Good morning from CONSOL Energy Center! Tonight it’s No. 1 vs. No. 2 – and I’m not talking LSU-Alabama. The top team in the West, Dallas (11-3), comes to Pittsburgh to battle the top team in the East, the Pens (9-3-3).
Since the Pens are facing the Dallas Stars, it only seems fitting to open the day with a song by Texas is the Reason. The band took their name and inspiration from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the city of Dallas.
Many of the group’s song titles are drawn from various events and conspiracy theories regarding Kennedy’s assassination, including “Back and to the Left” and “Magic Bullet Theory.” Although the song lyrics have nothing to do with JFK.
Today we’ll start with one of my favorite tunes by Texas is the Reason, “Jack With One Eye.” Enjoy.